Iowa - Health Agency Approves Cannabis Oil ID Card Rules

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A state panel Wednesday approved rules effective Jan. 30 for issuing photo identification registration cards as a legal protection for Iowans authorized to possess marijuana-derived cannabis oil for medical use to treat or alleviate symptoms of intractable epilepsy. Members of the state Board of Health approved the program rules without dissent but not before several questioned the practicality and advisability of setting up an arrangement whereby parents of epileptic children could face criminal charges for violating federal or border states' laws for transporting a prohibited product currently not grown or sold in Iowa.

"Iowans can't grow it, they can't buy it, they can't bring it from other states, what's the purpose of issuing a card?" asked board member Norman Pawlewski. "They have to break the law to bring it back?" added board member Maggie Tinsman, a former state legislator who replied "oh, my gosh" when told by state Department of Public Health officials that the state-issued registration card recommended by a licensed neurologist would provide an affirmative defense against prosecution to Iowans possessing no more than 32 ounces of the cannabidiol.

Last May the split-control Legislature passed and Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law Senate File 236 which granted special provisions for permanent Iowa residents at least 18 years of age with a written recommendation from a neurologist to possess and/or use cannabidiol as a medical treatment to alleviate symptoms of intractable epilepsy if there are no other satisfactory treatment options.

Intractable epilepsy is an epileptic seizure disorder for which standard medical treatment does not prevent or significantly ameliorate recurring, uncontrolled seizures or for which standard medical treatment results in harmful side effects. The new Iowa law would give prosecutorial immunity to people who possess cannabidiol, a non-smokable oil extract of marijuana with a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level to treat the seizures.

The law took effect July 1 but since the program rules just now passed for issuance of the registration card beginning Jan. 30 at the earliest there currently is no legal protection at this time for Iowans who possess the cannabis oil, said Deborah Thompson, policy adviser for the Iowa Department of Public Health. The rules, which cleared a legislative oversight committee on Tuesday, allows the state Department of Public Health to authorizes a picture ID registration card issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Thompson said the application process will be in place by Jan. 30; "will we be able to issue cards on that date? Maybe," she added.

Thompson said at least one company has approached the health agency about the possibility of being a state-designated entity that could act as a dispensary to get cannabis oil in other states, such as Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico or Michigan, and bring it back to Iowa for qualified holders of the state-issued card but there is nothing in Iowa law that would authorize such an arrangement.

"No one would say this law is perfect, not even the legislators who worked on this," Thompson told the board Wednesday. Health officials are attempting to get data on the number of neurologists who treat epilepsy patients in Iowa and how many of those would choose to participate in the cannabidiol program. Iowa may be home to up to 30,000 people with epileptic conditions but about one-third of those may have intractable epilepsy, the officials said. A legislative study committee is expected to hear more testimony Thursday from medical experts, parents of epileptic children and others about Iowa's new law and possible options for improving the statute next session.



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Source: Wcfcourier.com
Author: Rod Boshart
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Website: Health agency approves cannabis oil ID card rules